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Use Staples as Breadboard Jumpers 


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Use Staples as Breadboard 


Written By: Sean Michael Ragan 


• Acetone (100 mL) 

• Erlenmeyer flask (1) 

or other glass vessel for soaking staples 

• Erlenmeyer flask (1) 

or other glass vessel for filtration 

• Funnel (1) 

• Paper Towel (1) 


• MAKE Mintronics Survival Pack (1) 

• Staples (1 strip) 

You should also experiment with other 


Recently, we've been brainstorming ideas for a breadboarding workshop to put on at Maker 
Faire and other events. Hoping to save participants the tedium of cutting and stripping their 
own jumper wires (and the cost of providing readymade jumpers) we hit on the idea of using 
staples. I first read about this hack on Instructables . awhile back, and was excited to find a 
chance to put it to use. 

Just one problem: it doesn't work. 

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Use Staples as Breadboard Jumpers 

Or, I should say, it didn't work. At first. Our prototype staple-wired circuit was DOA, and 
putting a multimeter across one of the staples quickly revealed why. Staples are glued 
together, at the factory, to make strips, and the glue insulates the metal and keeps them 
from making solid electrical contact with the breadboard tie points. We tried several staple 
types and brands and had the same problem with each. 

It was Michael Castor who hit on the idea of pre-soaking the staples in acetone, which works 
great. This treatment not only removes the glue, but causes the strips to fall apart into 
pristine individual staples. This was an unexpected benefit, as we were expecting to have to 
keep staplers around so workshop participants could punch out their jumpers one at a time. 
Now we can just provide bowls full of acetone- washed staples at every station. 

Drop a couple of strips of staples into a liquid-tight glass, ceramic, or metal container. 
Have a glass, ceramic, or metal cover handy to keep the solvent from evaporating away 
during the soak. 

Pour acetone into the container until the strips are just covered. Put the cover on the 
container, and let it stand for awhile. 

After about twenty minutes, remove the cover and swirl the contents of the container. 
When the coating is fully dissolved, the stick of staples will simply fall apart into a mass of 
pristine individual staples. 

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Use Staples as Breadboard Jumpers 

• Once the strips fall apart, set up a separate glass or metal container for simple filtration. 
Set an oil funnel in the mouth of the container, line it with a paper towel, and pour the 
staples, solvent and all, into the funnel. 

• Once the acetone has run through the filter, pour a little more fresh acetone over the mass 
of staples to wash off any remaining residue from the coating. 

• Leave the staples on the filter to air dry, for a few minutes, then lift the paper towel out of 
the funnel and spread it on a solvent-proof surface. Spread out the mass of staples, on the 
paper towel, and let them thoroughly air-dry. 

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Use Staples as Breadboard Jumpers 

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Staples come in many shapes and sizes! If you're in the USA, the most common office 
staple size has a 1/2" "crown" and 1/4" legs. These make a nice substitute for 0.5" 
breadboard jumpers (the "green" size, in most jumper kits), which span 6 holes on a 
standard 0.1" breadboard grid. 

"Heavy-duty" staples are made from thicker gauge wire and may work better if your 
breadboard has loose tie points. Staples also come in many other crown sizes. Experiment 
with these to build yourself a whole staple-based jumper kit! 

Staples are incredibly cheap compared to readymade breadboard jumpers. The only 
major downside, at least on a prototype timescale, is that they are not insulated 


along the crown, so you can't overlap them without risking a short. Also, you'll need to be 
more careful about touching the breadboard with metal objects . 

Shown here is a simple 555-based photodetector based on a Forrest Mims design. The more 
light on the photoresistor, the faster the LED flashes. The circuit diagram is also attached to this 
project as a PDF. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-31 01 :57:44 AM. 

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